After honoring their first Broadway show last year, the Kennedy Center Honors are turning from stage to screen. Sesame Street will be the first television program to receive the accolade, with Sally Field, Linda Ronstadt, R&B band Earth, Wind & Fire, and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas also among 2019’s honorees.
Though the ceremony usually recognizes individuals, Hamilton was presented with an award in 2018, the first time the Honors were conferred on a creative work. Sesame Workshop co-founders Joan Ganz Cooney and Dr. Lloyd Morrisett will accept the award “on behalf of the show, Muppets creator Jim Henson, Muppets artists Caroll Spinney and Frank Oz, and the thousands of creatives who have built the program’s 50-year legacy,” according to a press release. This year marks the show’s 50th anniversary.
“In this class of honorees, we are witnessing a uniquely American story: one that is representative of so many cultural touchstones and musical moments that make our nation great,” Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter said in a statement. “When I look at this class, I see the hopes, aspirations, and achievements not just of these honorees, but of the many generations they have influenced and continue to influence.”
Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein also praised the 2019 recipients: “Earth, Wind & Fire’s hooks and grooves are the foundation of a seminal style that continues to shape our musical landscape; Sally Field has brought us unforgettable characters, both joyous and poignant, for more than five decades; Linda Ronstadt is the defining voice of a generation, spanning genres, languages, and continents; Sesame Street continues to revolutionize how children and adults learn about our world; and Michael Tilson Thomas goes far beyond keeping score: he has shaped American music and musical institutions for the 21st century.”
The annual Honors Gala will, as usual, be recorded as a two-hour primetime special, to be broadcast on CBS Sunday, Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. ET.